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Int J Immunopharmacol. 1986;8(7):819-24.

In vitro and in vivo suppressive effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on interferon production by murine spleen cells.


Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component in marijuana, has been reported to be suppressive on some immune functions. Since interferons (IFNs) are important immunomodulatory proteins, the effect of in vivo or in vitro administration of THC on induction of IFN by various mitogens was examined. Splenocytes from normal mice in the presence of THC produced significantly less IFN when stimulated by phytohemagglutinin (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), or Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Induction of IFN by a bacterial antigen, Legionella pneumophila bacterial cells, was also suppressed by THC. Also, splenocytes which were incubated up to 24 h in the presence of THC partially recovered responses to mitogens when cells were washed before stimulation. This suggested that THC must be present in order to mitigate IFN induction. Splenocyte cultures from mice which were chronically injected with THC for 6-8 weeks were also less responsive to induction of IFN by the various mitogens. These results suggest that at least part of the immunosuppressive effects of THC may be related to depressed IFN production by stimulated lymphocytes. Since Con A and PHA are T cell mitogens and LPS is considered to be a macrophage and B cell stimulator, suppression of IFN production by these classes of cells indicate a wide range of effects of THC.

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